Celtics

Celtics fall behind by 18 but rally for 101-94 victory over Thunder

Celtics fall behind by 18 but rally for 101-94 victory over Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY – When the Boston Celtics formed their version of a Big Three, Al Horford was viewed by most as the third member of the group.

But when Gordon Hayward went down, it required all of the Boston Celtics to step up. 

However, you would be hard-pressed to find another Celtic whose game has been elevated as much as Horford’s of late. 

But Friday night might have been his best performance to date, leading the Celtics to a come-from-behind 101-94 win. 

Horford finished with 20 points, 13 of which came in the decisive fourth quarter. 

With the win, Boston (7-2) extends its league-best winning streak to seven in a row on a night when they trailed by as many as 18 points. 

Boston also snapped a three-game losing skid to the Thunder (4-4).

Coming into the game, the Celtics knew they were facing a Thunder team that would provide them the stiffest challenge they’ve seen thus far defensively.

Boston came in with the league’s best defensive rating while the Thunder were right behind them at No. 2. 

Indeed, Oklahoma City’s defense gave Boston major fits in the first half as they flew around to loose balls, contested shots at the rim and on the perimeter. 

No one symbolized Boston’s struggles offensively early on more than their leading scorer, Kyrie Irving. 

He was just 1-for-9 shooting in the first half, with his lone basket being a 3-pointer with 2:02 to play in the second quarter. But when it mattered the most, Irving put his imprint on the game with clutch shooting and solid defense before finishing with 25 points with 22 coming in the second half. 

Irving’s struggles were surprising when you consider how well he has played against the Thunder in the past, especially when it came to 3-point shooting. 

He came into Friday’s game shooting 47.5 percent from 3-point range in his career against the Thunder, which is the best he has shot from 3-point range against any team. You would not have known that by the way the Thunder put the defensive clamps on Irving for most of the first half in limiting him to just 1-for-4 shooting from 3-point range after the first two quarters of play. 

For Celtics, comebacks build confidence

cp-spark-celtics-011818.jpg

For Celtics, comebacks build confidence

BOSTON -- There’s no team in the NBA that seems to like a good comeback as much as the Boston Celtics.
 
They come into tonight’s game against Philadelphia having rallied from a double-digit deficit to earn a victory nine times -- more than any other team this season.
 
It certainly provides them with a realistic boost of confidence that no deficit is too steep.  Repeatedly rallying to win after falling behind by large margins has created an unspoken confidence among the Celtics that how they start games doesn’t matter as long as they finish off playing the right way.

I asked Jayson Tatum about whether the Celtics have become too comfortable with digging themselves early deficits only to go on a tear and pull off a comeback win.
 
“Probably subconsciously we do,” Tatum said. “But we have to get away from that.”
 
Here are five other story lines to follow heading into tonight’s game between Boston and Philadelphia.
 
 

TATUM’S SHOOTING

Boston’s inability to come back from a large deficit and beat New Orleans wasn’t the only oddity about Tuesday’s loss. It was one of the few games this season when Jayson Tatum didn’t really look to score when on the floor. He had 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting to go with five rebounds, which isn’t a bad night. And while it’s always good to be an efficient scorer, him taking so few shot attempts has to be the exception rather than the rule most nights in order for Boston to be successful. This season the Celtics are 17-4 when he takes 10 or more shots, 17-7 when his shot attempt numbers are in the single digits.
 

TEMPER, TEMPER

The last time these two met, Boston’s Marcus Morris and Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons had issues when Simmons set a really hard foul on Morris, a Philadelphia native, who immediately rose to his feet and pushed Simmons. Since then, Simmons had another on-court bruhaha with another Philly native, Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors.  Simmons suspects guys are coming after him with a little extra something because he’s a rookie.

"I don't know if they're trying to test me or see how I am on the court, but I won't play around," Simmons said after the Sixers’ win over Toronto.

Morris called the foul Simmons committed against him last week in London a cheap shot.

 “But it’s all right,” Morris told reporters at the time. “I take a lot of cheap shots, too. It’s good to see Philly got some . . . tougher guys. I promise you that won’t happen again. It is what it is.”

ROOKIES ROLLIN’ DOUBLES

Tatum has been among the league’s most consistent scorers among the rookie class. He leads all first-year players with 38 games of scoring in double digits. Simmons, arguably the front-runner for the league’s Rookie of the Year award, has 35 double-digit scoring games which trails Tatum and Chicago’s Lauri Markkanen (36).

POPULARITY ON THE RISE

The NBA recently released the top-selling NBA jerseys for the fourth quarter (Oct. 2017 – Dec. 2017) of 2017. Tonight’s game features a trio of players who ranked among the top 15. Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid came in at No. 6, while fellow Sixer Ben Simmons had the eighth-highest selling jersey. For Boston, Kyrie Irving’s No. 11 jersey came in at No. 12.

JERRYD BAYLESS

With J.J. Redick (leg injury) out, look for Bayless’ role to increase significantly tonight. The former Celtic is averaging 8.5 points per game this season. But in three games against Boston, he has risen his scoring to 10.3 points per game while shooting 52.2 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from 3-point range.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

 

WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers

stream-celtics-76ers.jpg

WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics host the 76ers at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview:  Sweeping Sixers will depend on containing Joel Embiid

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE